THE ASSYRIAN EMPIRE
911-612 BCE
assyrian-empire-1.jpg
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GENERAL INFO:

The Assyrians were located in Northern Mesopotamia. They had a hilly terrain with a temperate climate. ( This means a good amount of rainfall). The Assyrian rulers were relatively ambitions, constantly running campaigns and taking over other empires.

SOCIAL

Social Stratification: There were the elite, and then there were "human beings"
-->Peasants were the foot soldiers of the army.
--> All others in the empire who were not apart of the elite, whether native assyrians or other peoples brought into the empire via conquest, were simply considered "human beings"
--> As time went, there became a class of trained soldiers who were considered the elite.
--> Royalty and elites consisted of royalty and skilled professions such as priests, diviners, scribes, doctors, and artisans. They were bound to the empire and king, with strict and sever punishment if caught breaking oaths to the empire. Received land grants, booty from conquests, and taxes from the people. These people were able to become specialized in the cities as a result of agricultural surplus from the peasants and the human beings.

CULTURAL:


Women
--> Women have no control over their lives. Men and women's interactions outside of the bloodline was extremely restricted. Women were required to wear veils, except for the prostitutes to the soldiers, who did not where a veil so they could be recognized.

LIBRARY OF ASHURBANIPAL: "A large collection of writings drawn from the ancient literary, religious, and scientific traditions of Mesopotamia. It was assembled by the seventh century BCE assyrian ruoler Ashurbanipal. The many tablets unearthed by archaeologists coonstitute one of the most important sources of present day knowledge of the long literary tradition of Mesopotamia" (Bulliet 83)
--> Very large group of scholars. They all kept track of many historical texts of Mesopotamia, which provide crucial information about the arts and sciences to historians today.

ECONOMICAL


Economy was driven by agriculture, taxation, and plundering. The "Mass Deportations" provided the elite land owners, and the city administrators the manpower that was needed to work the fields or build massive architecture. The elite and king became extremely wealthy from the massive taxation of the empire, since an large amount of the money went to their personal use, while the rest went to helping the public.

Merchant classes thrived off of long distance trading.

HUMANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT


Developed in the fertile crescent, only conquering states that ran along the Nile River, Tigris River, or Euphrates River.

POLITICAL

The Assyrians and a king that was "LIterally and Symbolically the center of the assyrian universe" (Bulliet 81). This means:
-->All land belonged to him
-->All people, from peasants to high ranking officials existed purely to serve him
--> He Had a divine right, since the God's chose him, and his succesor (usually his son or a very high ranking offical) also had the divine right, since he was picked by a divine oracle.
-->The king knows ALL. Messengers and spies tell him all that he needs to know.
--> King is commander of the Army. He runs campaigns, and takes part in them.
--> Government propoganda keeps the King on top. Pictures across the empire show him, big and strong, reigning over battle fields. Appears god like.
The Assyrians believed very passionately about the gods. This means:
-->King attends private and public spiritual rituals
-->Consults the gods before he makes ANY decision.
The Assyrians were constantly expanding, taking over empires and incorporating them into their own. How did they do this?
-->Terror Tactics: Harsh punishments are dished out to those who went against the government (all done publicly to both civilians and prisoners). Included being skinned alive, thrown into fires, heads of defeated rulers hung on city walls.
--> MASS DEPORTATION: 'The Forcible removal and relocation of large numbers of people or entire populations. The mass deportations practiced by the Assyrian and Persian empires were meant as a terrifying warning of the consequences of rebellion. They also brought skilled and usnkilled labor to the imperial center" (Bulliet 82). Mass deportation was used by the syrians to break down rebellions.

The syrian attempts at holding there empire together as they continued to expand never really worked out. Inevitably, they had tight control over the peoples that were close to the heart of the empire and much less for those that were located further away.

WHY IS THIS A "CIVLIZATION"???

--> One could say that this is a civilzation because of hte fact that it has the specialization of labor, it deffinetly had major advances in the sciences, it had advances in technology in terms of warfare, it had a political system that was not based on kinship, but rather on how much you own, it had both a system of writing and monumental architecture, status distinction was based largely on wealth.

Sources Used

Bulliet, Richard, et al. Earth and Its People, AP Edition, (Boston: Wadsworth, 2011)
Tignor, Robert. Worlds Together Worlds Apart, 2nd Edition (New York: Norton, 2009)




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